17 Jan 2024 Styal and Wilmslow Leader: Kevin, Length of walk: 10.5 miles, Driving Distance: 20 miles, Number walking: 21
Start from Styal Country Park SK9 4HP
Click here to see a map of the walk.
The sun shone out of a cloudless sky in Sandbach and stayed that way. The snow had disappeared from South Cheshire but in Wilmslow there was still plenty of snow and ice to contend with. Despite a few slips, only one person fell over, but showed no signs of damage.
The route went past Quarry Bank mill and since the toilets were so handy there was a long stop there. From the mill the group followed the path along the River Bollin to the brick-built bridge that takes pedestrians into Pownall Park. This is where the recce team went, but with the water level diminished, the group was able to take the scenic route through the woodland adjacent to Wilmslow Rugby Club. This added to the distance but was much more interesting than the pavements of Kings Road.
Lindow Common then beckoned and the group circumnavigated the Black Lake before the leader allowed them to stop by the benches and forced them to eat lemon drizzle cake. The leader has indicated that he needs to lose weight and God heard his plea and helped out by guiding the cake knife so that he cut 20 pieces, leaving no cake for him. God works in mysterious ways.
After crossing Carnival Field and following some urban footpaths, the group descended to The Carrs. This is a 71 acre park along the River Bollin. It was donated to the Wilmslow by the founder of Boddington’s Brewery, who lived nearby. The word ‘Carrs’ comes from the Old Norse word ‘Kjarr’ meaning ‘meadow recovered from bog’. You have to wonder how often the Norse folk used such a word but the original state of the ground is still obvious.
Crossing the bridge from Pownall Park again, the route joined the River Dean via a muddy field containing a few shy horses. It was fortunate that the temperature had dropped so that the walkers didn’t sink into it like the recce team did. The Wilmslow sewage works loomed on the other side of the river but was otherwise inoffensive.
All four stiles on the route were in this section as the group went under the railway viaduct and climbed out of the valley towards Styal railway station. A few hundred yards from the station, the Earlams Community Store and Café was waiting with outdoor picnic tables, indoor toilets and supplies of hot tea and cake. The leader was able to buy a delicious butterfly cake to make up his cake deficit and highly recommends the Earlams produce.
After another long delay to accommodate the toilet users, the group took the road to Manchester Airport and stayed close to the perimeter fence for some time watching landings and take-offs. Unfortunately, the leader followed the fence for far too long and had to retrace his steps to find the footpath down to the River Bollin. Once by the river, the path was flat apart from a couple of sections where the walkers had to climb steps as the path diverged from the riverside.
Approaching Quarry Bank Mill at 3:15, the signs announcing that the gates are locked at 3pm indicated that the National Trust keyholders were not applying the rule rigidly. God was still working mysteriously.
After another toilet stop, the group returned to the car park and politely omitted to complain about the extra walking they had been obliged to do.